It’s rare to find a game that is as light-hearted, charming and freeing as Kingdoms and Castles.
Originally a crowd-funded project on Fig that was funded 700% past it’s intended goal, Kingdoms and Castles is a Summer 2017 launch by Lionshield Studios. Inspired by the likes of SimCity, Banished, and Stronghold, the game blends elements of each of these games into a relaxing castle-building sim.
With its soft lighting, bright motifs, simple gameplay packaged with a mellow soundtrack, Kingdoms and Castles is the perfect game to waste away some free time. It’s easy to get involved in your world, as you can set goals on your own and work towards them at your pace. The only thing to be careful for is checking the time. I often found that sessions intended to be 45 minutes could go on for 2 hours because I would lose track of time.
The gameplay is easily understood from the get-go, with some slightly more complex tricks that will take some getting used to as your kingdom grows. Basic resources like wood, stone and food are obvious necessities in the beginning. As you play longer you will be forced to deal with your peasants’ happiness, gold, armaments, coal and more.
In the beginning, you’ll need to build hovels and basic sources of food through farms and orchards. You will also need to task your small population with chopping down trees to gather wood. Resource management is crucial throughout the game, as your peasants themselves are also a resource: they can only do one task at a time, be it constructing a building, working a farm or cutting wood.
As you continue into the mid-game, things get more complex. You will need to start building fortifications, as Vikings and dragons will randomly spawn to destroy buildings and steal your peasants. You’ll also need to start managing happiness by constructing taverns and churches and establishing a treasury to collect gold. Growing your population will be a necessary challenge, as you’ll need to manage resources efficiently to build more housing while avoiding plagues.
By the endgame, you’ll have fortifications that can withstand any attack. However, famine and the risk of low food with a high population are ever-present until you find a stable equilibrium. At this point, you can grow your castle to enormous sizes (just check out the game’s subreddit…) or simply quit and start a new kingdom.
One issue that I found was the difficulty. The game was very polarized in terms of its difficulty. When things are good, there is nothing to worry about whatsoever. When things are going bad, it’s extremely tempting to just exit without saving and create a new kingdom from scratch.
In the beginning, there’s a lot to manage. It can be difficult for new players to get a handle on anything before the first Viking or dragon encounter — which sets them back even farther. Still, the game is incredibly fun and this shouldn’t be a hindrance to anyone with a little tenacity.
Kingdoms and Castles is well-worth the $10 price tag and the replayability is endless. With new updates every 3-or-so months, content is being cleverly added in new ways to make the game more enjoyable and unique.
To sit back and design your own kingdom just how you want is a truly relaxing experience. If you’re like me, Kingdoms and Castles goes best with a window seat, a blanket and a cup of coffee on a rainy day. Watching your kingdom grow and expand in Kingdoms and Castles is rewarding and fun for everyone.